Applications of pyroelectric particle accelerators

Jeffrey A. Geuther, Yaron Danon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The discovery of pyroelectric X-ray generation in 1992 by Brownridge has led to a recent surge of interest in the use of the pyroelectric effect as a means of producing useful radiation. By heating or cooling a pyroelectric crystal such as lithium tantalate (LiTaO3) in a vacuum, a potential on the order of 100 kV can be generated. This potential is great enough to eject electrons from the crystal for the production of characteristic or bremsstrahlung X-rays, or to cause field ionization near a tip mounted to the crystal. By using the combined fields of two polarized crystals, the acceleration potential can be doubled, with one crystal acting as a particle emitter and the other crystal serving as a target. Such a paired-crystal system was used to generate X-rays with energies of greater than 200 keV, and can be used to fluoresce the K shell of thorium (Z = 92). An alternative use of pyroelectric sources is the field ionization of a dilute gas. If the positively-charged crystal is used to ionize a deuterium gas, and the target crystal is coated with deuterated target, the deuterium ions can be accelerated into the target at high enough energy to cause D-D fusion. Results verifying the production of D-D fusion neutrons from a pyroelectric source will be presented. Future applications of pyroelectric accelerator technology, such as the use of the electron beam for materials testing, will also be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-113
Number of pages4
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms
Issue number1-2 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Aug 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation


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